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“Hate leads to fights, Fights lead to war, War leads to beautiful world no more”
Kieran Hunt
 

Free Churches Group

Commission on the Church
and Social Cohesion


Who are we?

The Free Churches Group (FCG), established in 1940, is an ecumenical association of 24 Free Church denominations and Church groups in England and Wales, in the Nonconformist, Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions. Members include the traditional dissenting Christian denominations such as the Baptists and Congregationalists, and churches with different origins, like the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army and the Assemblies of God.

FCG provides national chaplaincy support and authorisations for Free Church Chaplains in the fields of healthcare and prisons. It also looks at faith in education from a Free Church perspective and developing the Free Church voice in the public square.  This is done whilst recognising that each Group Member remains at liberty to fulfil its own distinctive witness and mission. Maintaining the spiritual testimony of the Free Churches, upholding their full religious liberty and taking action on matters of principle, where appropriate, are rooted in FCG’s mission.


Our project:

Commission on the Church and Social Cohesion: ‘Unifying Society from Within’

The question of social cohesion has been near the top of the political agenda for well over a decade from the Cantle report into the riots of 2001, through to the 2012 Government Migration Advisory Committee report into social cohesion and integration and the Casey review into opportunity and integration, published in December 2016.

This project, to some degree, will respond to the general debate around social cohesion in England today. It aims to undertake significant research, through extensive case studies, into how well the Church in England is helping to foster social cohesion. We believe there is a strong theological argument to underpin the Church’s engagement in actively seeking to foster social cohesion and this will be reflected in the study.

The main body of the research, over 24 months, will therefore involve a series of detailed on-the-ground case studies looking at the way in which churches have responded to concerns about social cohesion (NB: not only where churches have successfully fostered social cohesion but also where the results have been less convincing). The Commission will involve Advisors from the Free Churches and observers from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and New Churches.

This combination of data and interviews will enable the Commission to provide an in-depth picture of the Church’s response to social cohesion in England today.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 


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The outputs will be:
  • The full report of the study, with analysis and recommendations;
  • ‘How to Booklet’ for churches/networks wishing to foster and strengthen social cohesion, including best practice information and ways to engage relevant stakeholders.
  • ‘How to Booklet’ for statutory bodies, such as, Government, Local Authorities and policy makers to encourage engagement with churches/networks and to draw on the expertise and knowledge of the key leaders in those organisations.   

 
We have progressed this project with an initial small-scale pilot has been conducted in Bolton where Churches and Christian groups have successfully engaged with other faith leaders, the local authority and other stakeholders in social cohesion projects. These interventions have been credited by many as a significant factor in resisting the establishment of divisive groups in the Bolton area. This pilot was also used to test assumptions around questions sets for interviews and approaches to engaging stakeholders in the area. This pilot will help to therefore develop the questionnaire and framework for the case studies as the wider study begins. Work has taken place to consider the local authority areas across England that will be studied as part of the primary research. The secondary research will help to feed into that selection process.


We value the prayers of the wider Church in England and we hope that the Free Churches in the area that are selected for the research will fully participate plus churches from the observer groups.


At the conclusion of this project we hope to provide a quantitative and qualitative report that is useful for government (local and national) to inform how the Church can effectively engage as an agent for social cohesion in England. We believe that this work will have wider application in Wales and Scotland and will be looking to discuss and share the findings in those countries with the relevant bodies.
To increase the confidence in the Church’s role in public life and provide practical ways to further engage in public life through social cohesion projects. We believe this work should help the Church to be more confident in mission and its ability to foster cohesion. It should also help Government/Local Authorities to have greater confidence in the church and its unique reach and capability to positively influence and change the communities it serves.   
 
 

For more information please contact us through our website.